SHIPWRECKS OF THE APOSTLE ISLANDS

July 30, 2011

Shipwreck of the Fedora

After kayaking around squaw bay I got some sleep and had to get up extra early in the morning to meet up with a Charter that was going to take me and a few other participants shipwreck diving around the Apostle Islands.  I get to the charter and the boat captain is sleeping on the boat, which I can understand, having a boat on the great lakes is quite the money pit and to be able to save a few bucks here and there by sleeping on the boat makes pretty good sense to me, pretty good. 
Shipwreck of the Fedora
We load up all of our gear and get out on the lake.  It was interesting to see how shallow some of the shoals get and how deep the water got immediately after some of these shoals, im talking from 10ft to well over a 100ft. within 10-20ft of distance! We make it over to an area between long island and Madeline Island where the Shipwreck of the Lucerne has found a permanent residency in 20ft of water.

Shipwreck of the Fedora
The Lucerne was a commercial schooner. In November 1886, it sank due to bad weather in Lake Superior, off the coast of Long Island in Chequamegon Bay. The site of the wreck was added to the National Register of Historic which I think was a nice addition to the register as this is a good example of how fog and peoples lives can play a serious role on the great lakes especially in the turn of the century.
Shipwreck of the Fedora
The tragic story of the Lucerne begins with her departure from Ashland, Wisc., with 1,256 tons of iron ore bound for Ashtabula, Ohio. Nothing indicated the snowstorm that would sweep across Lake Superior. As gale-force winds began to buffet the ship with snow, the schooner turned back toward the protective shelter of Chequamegon Bay. Unable to find the entrance, the captain dropped anchor off Long Island. For three days a desperate crew rode out the storm. Strained by the heavy ship and surging waves, the anchor gear failed. Sliding backwards with her bow into the wind, Lucerne's massive centerboard hit the lake bottom, breaking the schooner's back and quickly sinking her. On Nov. 19, the La Pointe lightkeeper discovered the Lucerne's masts jutting from the water. He found three men lashed in the rigging covered with up to six inches of ice. They had climbed the mast to escape Lake Superior's freezing water. Though two other bodies later washed ashore, there were no survivors, and the bodies of several crewmen were never found. (source: http://www.maritimetrails.org/resource-details.php?Resource=14 )
Shipwreck of the FinMcCool
We did a dive here and afterwards headed back toward the bay where we left from and went to visit the logging field, a rock pile from where a dock was being built, and the shipwreck of the Finn McCool.
Shipwreck of the FinMcCool
The Fin McCool was a 135 foot long, two story, wooden barge that served the lumber trade in the Ashland and Apsotle Island area. She was equipped with a derrick and bucket for loading logs. Over the years she changed owners six or seven times.
In 1964 her pumps failed, she sank and was abandoned in the Bayfield harbor.
Shipwreck of the Lucerne
After swimming around here, we got off the boat and I went over to the Red Cliff campground to set up camp and deploy my kayak to visit the Fedora and the Coffingberry. 
Shipwreck of the Lucerne
These two wrecks are only in 10ft or less of water and can be viewed by kayaking up and over them or swimming out to them. More information can be found about the H.D. Coffinberry here
Shipwreck of the Fin McCool
The Fedora is the first wreck a kayaker would pass by from the red Cliff campground as the top of the side paneling is still sticking out of the water and easy to spot. more information on the Fedora here
Shipwreck of the Fin McCool
It was nice to kayak and swim among the wreck of the fedora and be able to see some artifacts still at the bottom of the wrecks shallow grave
Shipwreck of the Fin McCool
The Coffingberry was another mile north flanking he mainland in a small bay
Shipwreck of the Fin McCool
It was fantastic to kayak, dive, and kayak some more to the shipwrecks and the islands of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and I look forward to doing it again shortly.
Shipwreck Of the Lucerne

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